Last September, I turned 40. Just a few months prior, I fell in love with an amazing 43-year-old man. The relationship moved fast; we quickly moved in together and started talking about building a family. We both wanted children, and preferably more than one. Since we planned to marry, we questioned whether we should do that first, and then start to create our dream family. But rather than wait, we decided to just go for it.
We started trying to conceive in October and we agreed to not put too much pressure on it: we would just continue to have fun sex as we were already doing and see what happened. He offered to get his sperm checked and I said, “No. If we’re not pregnant in six months, then we can both get tests done.” I thought about getting my hormone levels checked with my gynecologist, but I put that task on the back burner as well. I just wanted to have sex and not focus on the getting pregnant part. I wanted to hold onto the faith I had in my body and in its ability to do what I believed and hoped it could do—conceive with ease, regardless of the fact that I was now 40 years old.
In all honesty—I never shared this with my partner—I did expect it to take at least three months, or probably more, to get pregnant. I know how long it can take a couple to conceive when both partners are over the age of 40. I know the increased risks of miscarriage and chromosomal abnormalities with age. I’ve heard about and read all of the same statistics we all hear about: the emotionally draining tests, the roller coaster ride of multiple rounds of IVF or Clomid, the painful shots, the mounting bills and the nights of tears. And, as much as I have always had faith in my body and its ability to conceive, I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say these thoughts weren’t causing me some turmoil.
In fact, I know the road of fertility challenges better than most because I practice Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and have specialized women’s health and fertility for the 10 years. I have helped hundreds of women on their path to conceiving and giving birth to a healthy child. I have written books and speak publicly on the topic, and I know all of the potential fertility challenges that exist because I have gone through them with my clients. I have witnessed way too many heart-wrenching fertility struggles. But, through my experience, I also know that most all the women I work with do wind up conceiving healthy children at some point--even in their 40s.
When I work with fertility clients, I guide them to adopt certain lifestyle changes—like becoming omnivores, eating organic, meditating, sleeping 7-8 hours each night and practicing gratitude—to optimize their fertility. Based on my decade of clinical experience and my years of extensive research, I believe that when we practice these lifestyle habits, we truly have the ability to change our health and improve our fertility--even in our 40s.
I’ve seen clinically how these tweaks in behavior can dramatically shift health in a positive direction. Many women, when they adopt these lifestyle changes, see improvement in their menstrual cycles and their ovulation; their hormonal imbalances balance out; their thyroid comes back into harmony; their lives change for the better; they are happier in the present moment; and, overall they are healthier on a global scale: mind, body and soul. It is then that I see them conceive—when mind, body and soul are in sync.
So, now it’s my turn to be a testament to what I preach: the way you live your life has an impact on your health and your fertility. And in my clinical opinion, chronological age pales in comparison to biological age.
As I am writing this, I am 16 weeks pregnant. I got pregnant the second month we tried. Last week, we got the results from my maternity 21 and nuchal translucency tests and they not only showed that the baby boy inside of me is healthy, but also that I have the same genetic odds of anything going wrong with this pregnancy as a women half my age. The doctors have told me there is no need for any further testing. We are in the clear.
I can’t tell you what a relief that news was. That’s not to say that when I go to the bathroom, I still make sure there’s no blood on the toilet paper or that I randomly catch myself squeezing my breasts (sometimes in public!) to make sure they’re still sore, or when I feel cramping in my low back, I fear I am miscarrying—even though I know it’s just the baby growing. I guess this is just the beginning of being parent and worrying about your child’s well being. It’s absolutely surreal.
For as many times as I’ve been on the other side of this with one of my clients, nothing compares to now knowing it and living it first hand. It truly is a miracle. And then to know that my odds of having a healthy baby are the same as someone half my age--I feel that is a true testament to all the work I have done on my health over the years. I really believe the way I live my life has reversed my aging process, or at the least slowed down the aging process of my body and its cells.
I’m living proof that 40 and pregnant happens and it can happen naturally, with ease and fun. I am proud to say that I treat my body like the palace I believe it is, and even though I had—and, will likely continue to have—moments of worry and fear over the health of my baby, I never lost faith in my body and its ability to conceive a healthy child at some point. For all this, I am beyond grateful.
As I always say in my clinic: you have the power to change your health and improve your fertility. My pregnancy at 40 years old is evidence of that.
Author, acupuncturist, and herbalist Aimee Raupp is a women’s health and fertility expert. Follow along on her blog for more on her pregnancy journey and check out her latest book, Yes, You Can Get Pregnant: Natural Ways To Improve Your Fertility Now and Into Your 40’s. And come meet her in person at Well Rounded NY’s Tips by Trimester event on March 26! Register here.